This piece is dedicated to our hardworking locals! These are the individuals who are fueled by their passion for music – the familiar faces you’d recognize as the openers and closers in Toronto’s nightclubs. The city has been shut down for months and only now are we beginning to slowly ease-off the social distancing rules. A crowded, sweaty dance floor is still undeniably out of the equation. Just like the many, many DJs I wrote about in my last editorial, our local talents, too, have been inspired to create and release new digital content during the downtime. I have assembled the following collection of quarantine-themed projects from these folks (including our events promoters) for your auditory pleasure. Show ’em some love!
In no particular order…
Let’s kick things off with a Canadian-based digital festival. True North Music Group is an organization from Edmonton, AB, and the owners of TrueNorthRadio – an online radio station providing a space for electronic DJs to be heard. From May 9th to May 10th, they hosted a fundraiser with their platform in order to raise money to purchase PPE (gloves, masks, shields, etc.) to donate to Canadian healthcare workers. The supplier also agreed to match the donation amount dollar-for-dollar! The Internet radio station transmitted classics sets from 49 artists playing for over 36 straight hours and I’m happy to report the charity passed their targeted goal of $1,000!
Toronto was well represented with several of our locals generously donating their time to the cause. The Psyntist went above and beyond for his broadcast. One camera on deck, one camera on man (complete with a light show), and a greatly appreciated “now playing” banner. He took this opportunity to share some of the tracks that ignited his passion for electronic dance music and his interest in the trance genre long before The Psyntist alias was born. Check out this clip of his set and give him a follow on Twitch to be notified of any future live streams.
Brain David began performing live in 2016 and has opened and closed for several big names in the trance community since his debut to the scene four years ago. Under normal circumstances, he can be found moving the crowd inside One Loft as he is currently one of the resident DJs for the Toronto event promoter Trance Sessions. They have kindly shared his set from the Classics Marathon. If you need help identifying a track, the entire setlist was shared on the Soundcloud page.
You may have seen DJ Ryan Gentry live inside Bassline Music Bar or maybe you’ve tuned in to Gentrification, his weekly Sunday radio show on-air with TrueNorthRadio. He was yet another who participated in the Classics Marathon. Tune in if you want to hear all throwbacks in his 1990’s trance set. Plus, Gentry’s bio is the reason why I’m creating this list in the first place (and I know he’s not alone in this feeling!) – “For me, it’s not about the money or fame. I could not give less of a fuck about that. I just want to play the music I love for as many people as I possibly can. For the love of music!”
Aaron Winter is an uplifting trance DJ who has helped grow the dance scene in London, ON. He has been a major player in expanding the southern Ontario trance scene, teaming up with local promoter, N.E.C. Productions both prior to the lockdown and participating in their Twitch streams – but more on that later. He joined in on the TrueNorthRadio Classics Marathon and has uploaded his hour-long set to his Soundcloud:
Since the beginning of his career in 2015, Deecee has been a rising DJ in Toronto and has supported a variety of acts in several different genres inside many of the clubs across town. Derek Chen is affiliated with Electric Escape and has a big following in the Toronto Rave Community and Toronto Trance Family. It’s no surprise to see he was on the list of people who contributed to the Classics Marathon.
JMP is brand new when it comes to performing live in front of a Toronto audience. He snuck in his debut set at Trance Session’s Craig Connelly event back in February, one of the last nights out before all clubs were forced to shut their doors indefinitely. The lockdown may not be working in his favour but that hasn’t kept him from mixing! JMP was also a part of the Classics Marathon:
TRANCEPORTED’s very own writer Phil Martiniello is in the mix! Under his alias, Martnello, he performs live shows that stream every Wednesday at 8 pm. Previous streams can be relived on his Youtube channel. While event reviews have been halted, Phil has still managed to bring new excellent original content to our site. He has done an interview with A.D. The Kid, an interview with Alessandra Roncone, an interview with Misja Helsloot, and a review for Moonchild by the new trance supergroup Elysian.
Adrian Dobbs, who goes by the stage name A.D. The Kid, is a resident DJs for Electric Escape and was one of three Toronto-based DJs on the U4RIA Trance Livestream 1.0 lineup. For the 18th and latest episode of his After Death Radio show, he reuploaded his two-hour broadcast (more info about the U4RIA Twitch stream can be found in the EE section down below). Give it a listen as he starts off with trance before moving into techno and progressive beats. Want more trance from A.D. The Kid? Check out this episode of After Death Radio 016 – Quarantine Trance Vol. 1.
Herman Ponce and Rady Luy together create Hnrsound, a trance and progressive duo emerging from a neighbouring city to our west – Hamilton, ON. They have been booked for various U4RIA events here in Toronto and are frequent performers inside Club Seventy-Seven. During the first month of lockdown, they released a one-off mix titled together we are one which features their original tracks, some classics and few favourites delivered with the message “we understand the times we’re facing globally, we hope everyone remains safe and positive”. More recently, in mid-June, Greg Downey dedicated the full eighth episode of his Live From ‘The Bunker’ series to unsigned artists; two of Hnrsound’s original productions – Teknika and Deep In Your Mind – were showcased!
A unique opportunity for young producers has been co-created by Toronto’s own Tim Penner, birthed directly from these months of global isolation. Penner teamed up with John 00 Fleming to co-host an online course designed to help understand music from a new perspective and share valuable lessons learnt through their combined decades worth of experience in club culture. The Art of Storytelling consists of four two-hour classes with live Q&A all for the reasonable price of $100. The first session is currently underway but be on the lookout for any future session announcements on his website. Whilst developing the curriculum, Penner didn’t stop releasing new mixes. The “portal has closed” for Slideways Sessions as of April (the final episode #255 was an 11:11 long clip made up of mostly chirping crickets) but he has very recently launched Passenger – tune in for progressive house. Trance-only fans can continue on to his contribution to this year’s digital Luminosity Beach Festival:
Elsewhere in the EDM genre, Bass Army Canada presented the virtual event series Bass Lockdown. For six consecutive weeks, they showcased the hottest local talent through their Twitch channel with all donations going towards Hashtag Hope to help battle mental health issues in the community. I met Ace at the very beginning of his producing career and although we have different taste in styles, I’m very happy to see he’s flourishing within bass nation! Ace was part of the season finale of Bass Lockdown which was themed “Deep & Dark”. During the lockdown, he also released his newest album titled “The Answer To The Riddle Is Yes”. Ace is scheduled to perform for Bass Army Canada’s Unity Virtual Music Festival 2.0 that will take place during the last weekend of August.
In a culture dominated by men, it’s important we show support for our ladies! The beautiful and talented Ticky Ty has launched a new weekly mix on her Youtube channel titled ENTER THE TICKIVERSE. Check out her first episode if you’re looking for a house/tech house/techno blend. Ticky Ty had created eight episodes in the series between April and May and sadly in June, she announced she needed to put the show on hiatus because of personal reasons. There has been a lot of misery in the first half of 2020 and I wish nothing but the best for her! She will receive the love she deserves whenever she is ready to take us on another trip to the Tickiverse.
Joe Manzone and Fab Strong, better known together here in Toronto as simply Manzone & Strong, are the resident DJs for Ink Events and can be found mixing music inside Noir, Toybox, Cabana Pool Bar, and at Veld when the circumstances allow. They also appear on the local radio broadcast Z103.5’s Drive @ Five for the needed distraction that airs during the terrible gridlocked 401 rush hour. The duo started releasing mixes in volumes called “Stay Home”. These can be streamed or are available for a free download on their Soundcloud and Mixcloud pages.
This man is a legend in Toronto, known for being a resident DJ during those lost Guvernment days. Mark Oliver has been a well-known DJ in this city for decades! Due to the sad cancellation of his show back in March, Oliver put together a mix featuring tracks inspired by another iconic and infamous club, Comfort Zone.
25 years after playing at the original Comfort Zone space in 1995 (known as Buzz back then), I was booked to play at the new location of CZ on the 29th March, 2020. Unfortunately for obvious reasons due to the pandemic and lockdown, the show did not happen. I felt an urge to record a set of some of the tracks I would have played in the after hours of that morning. It will never replace the real live experience, but it’s always possible to close one’s eyes and imagine. — Mark Oliver, Soundcloud
Last month Electric Escape put together a six-hour event called U4RIA Trance Livestream 1.0 that streamed live on Twitch and featured Martnello, A.D. The Kid, and Deecee. On June 7th, Chris Schweizer played a set for U4RIA Trance Livestream 2.0 where he’s out in the sun by the pool, surrounded by palm trees. The video is available on their official Facebook page. Electric Escape announced that their next instalment of U4RIA Trance Livestream 3.0 will take place on July 18th. The three Toronto boys from 1.0 will reappear (Martnello, A.D. The Kid (with what will be a “birthday beats” affair), and Deecee) alongside NASH and Ashley Wallbridge.
Aaron Winter was booked to open for Ben Gold inside Rum Runners this past March. Back then the outlook of the pandemic was chaotic and the show was only pushed forward three months. It was recently postponed again until the fall. Instead of DJing in the club, both were involved with N.E.C. Productions new electronic live stream called From Our Place To Yours. The schedule for July 3rd was dedicated to bass beatdowns and July 4th was for the trance family. Aaron Winter and Ben Gold were only two from a lineup of seven. Ryan Gentry, A.D. The Kid, and Khardiac have saved broadcasts on NECevent’s Twitch page. Unfortunately it appears occasional portions of audio in some of these sets are cut due to copyright claims.
Despite the fact that Ink Entertainment had to postpone and/or cancel a lot of big headlined events, disappointed ticket holders weren’t left totally empty-handed. Ink used their social media platforms to broadcast a few special streams brought to you by some of the performers of the cancelled events. The first to do a takeover was Offaiah, followed by a forty-minute mix from Andrew Rayel, then half of Illyus & Barrientos (part one, part two, part three). Next, CID put on a seventy-minute show from his studio, Frank Walker submitted an hour-long mix, and the most recent upload was from Toronto’s own Waves. I expect more content to be released as this isolated summer continues.
On this last note, I want to give REZZ a big congratulations on winning the Juno Award for Electronic Album Of The Year for her album “Beyond The Senses”! This is Isabelle Rezazadeh‘s third nomination and second win, and I expect she will continue to receive positive recognition throughout her career!
Ashlyn Doughty – TRANCEPORTED
*Banner photo snapped by Carlos Osorio.